Abdul Salam Zaeef My Life With the Taliban

ISBN 13: 9781849040266

My Life With the Taliban

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9781849040266: My Life With the Taliban
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This is the autobiography of Abdul Salam Zaeef, a senior former member of the Taliban. His memoirs, translated from Pashto, are more than just a personal account of his extraordinary life. "My Life with the Taliban" offers a counter-narrative to the standard accounts of Afghanistan since 1979. Zaeef describes growing up in rural poverty in Kandahar province. Both of his parents died at an early age, and the Russian invasion of 1979 forced him to flee to Pakistan. He started fighting the jihad in 1983, during which time he was associated with many major figures in the anti-Soviet resistance, including the current Taliban head Mullah Mohammad Omar. After the war Zaeef returned to a quiet life in a small village in Kandahar, but chaos soon overwhelmed Afghanistan as factional fighting erupted after the Russians pulled out. Disgusted by the lawlessness that ensued, Zaeef was one among the former mujahidin who were closely involved in the discussions that led to the emergence of the Taliban, in 1994. Zaeef then details his Taliban career as civil servant and minister minister who negotiated with foreign oil companies as well as with Afghanistan's own resistance leader, Ahmed Shah Massoud. Zaeef was ambassador to Pakistan at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and his account discusses the strange 'phoney war' period before the US-led intervention toppled the Taliban. In early 2002 Zaeef was handed over to American forces in Pakistan, notwithstanding his diplomatic status, and spent four and a half years in prison (including several years in Guantanamo) before being released without having been tried or charged with any offence. "My Life with the Taliban" offers a personal and privileged insight into the rural Pashtun village communities that are the Taliban's bedrock. It helps to explain what drives men like Zaeef to take up arms against the foreigners who are foolish enough to invade his homeland.

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Review:

'Spies, generals and ambassadors will pounce on this book, poring over its pages for clues to a way out of the Afghan morass.' --Sunday Telegraph

'The first book from inside the Taliban could not be better timed. Abdul Salam Zaeef was one of the founding members of the group and held senior positions within it, ending up as ambassador to Pakistan.' --Sunday Times

'A counternarrative to much of what has been written about Afghanistan since 1979. . . Zaeef offers a particularly interesting discussion of the Taliban's origins and the group's effectiveness in working with locals.' --Foreign Affairs

'The first book from inside the Taliban could not be better timed. Abdul Salam Zaeef was one of the founding members of the group and held senior positions within it, ending up as ambassador to Pakistan.' --Sunday Times

'A counternarrative to much of what has been written about Afghanistan since 1979. . . Zaeef offers a particularly interesting discussion of the Taliban's origins and the group's effectiveness in working with locals.' --Foreign Affairs

About the Author:

Born in southern Afghanistan in 1968, Abdul Salam Zaeef played a role in many of the historical events of his lifetime, from his role as mujahed in the 1980s war against the Soviets, to administrative positions within the Taliban movement, to imprisonment in Guantanamo, to a role of public advocacy and criticism of the US-backed Karzai government following his release in 2005. He lives in Kabul. Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn are researchers and writers permanently based in Kandahar. They have worked in Afghanistan since 2006, focusing on the Taliban insurgency and the history of southern Afghanistan over the past four decades. Their research extends to other Muslim countries and they are regular commentators on major western news channels.

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Abdul Salam Zaeef
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ISBN 10: 1849040265 ISBN 13: 9781849040266
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